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Catholic Church, Boy Scouts hit with sex abuse suits under new NJ law extending victims' rights

Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in News & Features

As of 5 p.m. EST Monday, each of New Jersey's seven Roman Catholic dioceses had been named as a defendant in at least one lawsuit. That included four new lawsuits filed against the Diocese of Camden, three naming the Trenton diocese and seven against the Archdiocese of Newark.

Newark church officials, like those in all of the other dioceses sued this week, declined to address the specific allegations lodged in the new lawsuits. But in an email that echoed similar statements from Catholic leaders across New Jersey, a spokesperson said the archdiocese "will continue to cooperate and work with victims, their legal representatives and law enforcement authorities in an ongoing effort to resolve allegations made and bring closure to victims."

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Allentown were also sued by plaintiffs alleging that Pennsylvania priests had abused them on trips across the Delaware River, including one woman who said she first met Allentown priest Joseph A. Rock as a 13-year-old in Atlantic City only to be tormented by him for the next 11 years.

The now 58- year-old woman, identified in court filings as "Jane Doe," maintained that Rock, who has since been defrocked, forced her into oral and anal sex from the day he first offered to babysit her in 1974 and on trips to the Jersey Shore.

When she finally tried to cut off contact after she had moved on to college, she said in court papers, Rock blackmailed her with nude photos and videos he had taken of her since she was a girl.

Rock, who now lives in Bethlehem, Pa., has repeatedly declined to comment on repeated allegations lodged against him by multiple accusers between 1985 and 2001. He could not be reached for comment Monday.


Also silent were Trauger and John Schmear, both of whom were accused in a lawsuit of abusing an altar boy from East Norriton, Montgomery County, starting when he was just 11.

Their alleged victim, now 50, said in a lawsuit Monday that his parents suggested in 1981 that he talk to Schmear -- a friend of the family and teacher at Bishop Kenrick High School and Norristown -- after he first alleged Trauger had abused him.

But Schmear, the suit states, took invited him into his bedroom at the rectory St. Titus Parish and instead steered the conversation toward the boy's masturbatory habits and began to rub his genitals. Similar abuse allegedly continued throughout the man's high school years and during a 1982 trip to the Mystic Island section of Little Egg Harbor Township, Ocean County.

"Throughout his life since the abuse, (the accuser) has struggled with anger and rage problems ... inability to maintain healthy relationships and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder," his lawsuit said.


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